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Polarized lenses

What are polarized lenses?

Polarized lenses are lenses with a special filter that blocks horizontally-reflected light off asphalt, sand, water, or snow, reducing glare.

What are the benefits of polarized lenses?

Polarized lenses help neutralize glare, allowing for better vision in bright conditions. 

How do polarized lenses work?

Light reflected off flat surfaces is often polarized, meaning it travels in a more uniform, aligned direction (usually horizontal) than natural light does—typically, light radiates outward in all directions. Polarized light is therefore magnified and more intense, causing glare and reducing visual acuity. 

Polarized lenses have a chemical film that absorbs horizontal light waves while still allowing vertical light waves to pass through. (Smith Optics's polarized lenses use energized iodine crystals positioned in vertical rows on a thin piece of film to absorb polarized light.) As light only travels in one direction through polarized lenses, glare is eliminated. 

Who are polarized lenses good for?

Polarized lenses are good for sports and outdoor enthusiasts. However, sunglasses or goggles with polarized lenses may not be a good choice for skiers or snowboarders, as the polarized lenses would block the light reflecting off hazardous icy patches. Many polarized lenses also reduce the visibility of LCD displays, such as those of smartphones and GPS devices.  

What activities are polarized lenses good for?

Mirrored lenses are especially good for:

  • boating
  • fishing
  • water sports
  • golf
  • cycling
  • driving

How can I tell if my sunglasses' lenses are polarized?

The easiest way to check the polarization of a lens is to position it on top of a surface that you know is polarized, such as a liquid crystal display (LCD) or digital watch face. Rotate the lens over the watch on a horizontal plane. If the lens is polarized, you will notice the watch display appears darker as you rotate the lens above it. If the lens is not polarized, there will be no visual difference as you view the watch through the lens.

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